Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2015 Week 23

The Peoria Chiefs had some magic in the first round against Kane County, but couldn’t continue their championship run as they fell short against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Kenny Peoples-Walls led the offense.

9/9/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Kane County Cougars 1

The Chiefs won their first playoff game in the ten years with an exciting walk-off victory at Dozer Park over Kane County (ARI).

The offense got things underway immediately with an RBI double from Harrison Bader in the bottom of the first. The Cougars came back to tie it up in the fifth.

Jack Flaherty provided an excellent start with one run on five hits and six strikeouts over seven innings of work. The bullpen delivered a great outing as well combining for two perfect innings and also two strikeouts from closer Kyle Grana.

Kenny Peoples-Walls didn’t need to even to swing the bat in the bottom of the ninth to send the fans home happy. Following a Brian O’Keefe double and back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases, People-Walls showed his patience to drive in the game-winning run on a free pass to give the Chiefs a 1-0 series lead.

9/10/15: Peoria Chiefs 3 @ Kane County Cougars 2

Peoria completed the sweep against Kane County on the road, led by an Austin Gomber gem. The Peoria southpaw went six innings with one run on six hits and struck out seven to get the win.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first, the Chiefs fired back right away in the top of the second. Nick Thompson sent a two-run blast off the video board in left field to put the Chiefs ahead 2-1.

In the sixth inning, Alex Deleon drove in Oscar Mercado, who just beat the throw to the plate for Peoria’s third run of the game.

Nick Frey allowed a run on two hits over 1/3 innings before Sasha Kuebel threw a shutout inning with a hit and a walk. Tyler Bray sat down both hitters he faced and Kyle Grana shut the door to clinch the series with a shutout ninth.

9/12/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels 3

While starter Matt Pearce made a strong effort, it just was not enough as the Chiefs dropped the series opener of the semi-finals to the Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN).

The Chiefs responded to a 1-0 deficit quickly in the bottom of the first as Harrison Bader’s sacrifice fly knotted the game back up.

The game remained at 1-1 until Cedar Rapids broke through with a two-run home run from Max Murphy in the top of the seventh off Pearce. Pearce went 6 1/3 innings with three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out five.

A ninth-inning rally was sparked by Darren Seferina’s RBI single that brought in Kenny Peoples-Walls, who tripled to lead off the inning. However, Peoria fell short and couldn’t complete another walk-off in the playoffs.

9/13/15: Peoria Chiefs 4 @ Cedar Rapids Kernels 5

With their backs against the wall, Peoria couldn’t pull out the victory on the road as their season came to an end.

The Chiefs led 4-1 after a big four-run third inning. The first two runs came from a throwing error from Cedar Rapids, a balk brought in the third, and Harrison Bader knocked in the fourth with an RBI single.

The Kernels, however, rallied back on their home turf as the Peoria bullpen deteriorated the Chiefs’ hopes of staying alive in the 2015 season.

Ian McKinney took the bump and went 3 1/3 with two runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking one. Nick Frey pitched 1 2/3 innings with one run on two hits and two punchouts. Tyler Bray had a perfect inning with two K’s. Sasha Kuebel blew the save and took the loss with two runs, one earned, on one hit with a walk. Jery Then went 1 1/3 innings with two hits and a strikeout.

Who’s Hot

Kenny Peoples-Walls – Clutch-hitting and great at-bats came from Peoples-Walls through the Peoria playoff run. The outfielder collected four hits in 13 at-bats for an average of .333 with an RBI from his walkoff on September 9.

Harrison Bader – The former Florida Gator chomped his way through pitching in the postseason and drove in a run in three of the four games played. Bader also hit .308 and finished with three RBI in his playoff efforts.

Darren Seferina – After going 0-for-4 in Game 1 against Kane County on September 9, Seferina turned things around immediately and hit .353 in the leadoff spot through his four games in the playoffs. The second baseman also had an RBI and a stolen base.

Who’s Not

Nick Frey – The 24-year old reliever couldn’t find his rhythm in the playoffs as he went two innings with two runs in four hits, which rounds out to a 9.00 ERA.

Sasha Kuebel – Kuebel’s two playoff appearances became day-and-night. The lefty didn’t have enough to prevent Cedar Rapids from taking the lead in the late going on September 13 as he blew the save and was dealt with the loss to end the season.

Paul DeJong – The third baseman’s hot regular season bat froze over as he had only one hit through 16 at-bats. DeJong also struck out a combined nine times through four games in the playoffs.

Midwest League Western Division Standings – Second Half Final

Kane County Cougars (ARI) # 48 22 .686 - 26-9 22-13 40-18 7-3 L1
Quad Cities River Bandits (HOU) * 43 27 .614 5.0 23-12 20-15 37-21 5-5 L1
Peoria Chiefs (STL) @ 42 28 .600 6.0 22-13 20-15 35-23 5-5 W1
Cedar Rapids Kernels (MIN) 36 34 .514 12.0 19-16 17-18 30-28 5-5 L1
Beloit Snappers (OAK) 29 40 .420 18.5 17-18 12-22 24-33 4-6 W1
Burlington Bees (LAA) 28 42 .400 20.0 16-19 12-23 25-33 7-3 W4
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) 27 42 .391 20.5 17-17 10-25 23-34 3-7 L4
Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 20 50 .286 28.0 11-24 9-26 17-41 4-6 W1
* first-half division winner
@ clinched playoff
# clinched division

Season Brief

The Chiefs fell just two wins short of competing for the league title after a second-half surge fueled by huge contributions from draft picks and call-ups. While a disappointing end came their way, the Chiefs showed their true potential and development throughout the wild, crazy 2015 season.

Check back this week as the full Peoria Chiefs season recap is coming on Friday.

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